Showdown at Pine Cliff


The Zephyr Arrives
One fine day several years ago, I was on a train watching trip along the Moffat Route.  Much had changed from the Denver & Rio Grande Western days, but much was still the same.  Coming in from the right (west) was the Amtrak California Zephyr.
Stop, Go, Sudden Stop
The train slowed to a stop just before the road crossing at Pine Cliff (now called simply Cliff on the railroad maps).  It sat there for quite a few minutes before slowly drifting forward.
Curious, what is going on?
Suddenly, the train came to an abrupt halt.  After a few minutes it still had not moved, so I decided to cross over the tracks to find out what was happening.
Here comes the Conductor...
Once on the other side, I saw the conductor walking back along the train.  When he got back to me, I asked him what was going on.  He said they had to stop because there was a train coming.  Hmmm.  The conductor climbed onto the last express boxcar, and prepared for a reverse movement.  Radio chatter heated up, and he muttered something, dismounted and went back along the train toward the front.  I followed at a discrete distance.
The porters are outside?
Further along, I found the porters had left the train and were having a smoke break.  Well, the train isn't leaving soon.  Wonder what's up ahead?
Oh, I see!  Wow!
Oh ho!  No wonder they stopped so fast.  Staring the Amtrak train down was an SP powered freight train!  I figure there was about 100 feet between the two trains.
Slid into the Frog...
On closer inspection, you can see the Amtrak engine has slid well into the switch, sitting on the frog.
Sure was close!
Around the other side in a parking lot along the river, you can see another view of the showdown. The engineers spent a long time, about an hour, trading license and insurance information :-)
Around the Bend
Downstream you can see the rest of the freight train.  Several cars back in the train were propane tankers, and they were well represented throughout.
The freight gets going...
Finally, the Amtrak train backs up around the corner out of view.  The freight train gets roaring and proceeds into the siding.
Amtrak gets going...
The Amtrak train then moves forward, heading around the mountain and into the Moffat tunnel district.
Reds all around
After the two trains left, there were red signals all around.  I bet the dispatcher was glad that he didn't have an incident on his watch!